How To Restore A Classic Truck With Wood Rails

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Wood rails are an elegant and classic way to dress up an old truck. They are a great way to add a touch of class while retaining a truck's ruggedness.

To restore a classic truck with wood rails, start by planning the height and length of the wood rails with 2x4s as the posts and 3x8s as the panels. Next, a small demo of the rear of the truck is needed to fit the side railings on each side properly. Lastly, the wood can be stained and installed.

Wood rails are the structures on the side of the truck that provides protection and security to the pickup truck bed. However, they also offer a newer yet vintage look on an old, classic truck, and we have outlined how it can be accomplished on a budget.

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How To Restore A Classic Truck With Wood Rails

Wood rails are a classic, rustic way to preserve the natural beauty of the truck and make it stand out. Restoring a classic truck with wood rails is not complicated, but it does require some work.

This can be done on various classic trucks, and it’s one of the cheapest ways to restore an old classic truck on a tight budget. The key is for the truck to have an open bed with a low-rise design. Otherwise, a significant demo is required first.

Side rails are a vital part of pickup trucks. They are used to store tools and other items that might be needed for the job. They also help provide additional protection for the bed of the truck.

We will explain exactly how to execute this restoration strategy below. There needs to be proper planning, demoing, fitting, staining, and installation for a successful final result.


The planning phase is most important when restoring a classic truck. Wood rails are a popular way to renovate an old truck to make it look as good as new.

This is the stage when measurements should be taken, wood should be purchased, and the rails should be built.

Wood rails are typically found on the older models of classic vehicles, but they can also be found on newer models. Wood rails give a truck an old-fashioned look and feel to it.

They also protect the driver from being hit by something like a stone or other debris while driving down the road.


The restoration process also starts by removing all paint or old parts from the truck bed before any new installations are made.

This can be done by using sandpaper to remove paint, using powerful chemicals to dissolve paint, or using heat to soften paint so it can be scraped away with a scraper blade.

The next step is to repair any damage on the truck bed. Sweep out the entire truck bed, spray the bed liner, wash the truck and truck bed, and rinse the side walls of the truck too.

The amount of demoing required depends on the condition of the classic truck.


Next, it’s recommended to measure how far apart the rails on the truck bed should be and mark where they should go on the bed frame. After this, drill holes in the bed frame where the marks are so that the rails can be screwed in place with screws or nails.

The pieces should be as straight as possible with no knots or cracks in them. Fitting them first is critical because the posts should be installed first.


Staining the wood is a preference depending on the design idea for the truck. We typically recommend it because it provides the most refined look, but there are alternative solutions too.

One popular design idea is to paint the wood to match the truck's color. For example, an all-black truck looks good with a restored truck bed with wood rails when they are painted black too.

The other option is to simply leave the wood rails as it is with no design change. This is the most vintage look but is not recommended for long-term durability.


Lastly, the wood rails can be installed. Painting them beforehand is not required, and many people prefer to do the painting after installing them on the truck.

The wood rails must be stained before installation, though. This is why knowing what the final design will be is critical.

How to Build Pickup Truck Wood Side Rails

Pickup truck side rails are a popular modification for pickup trucks. There are many ways to build them. The process is not complicated but requires time and patience to get the job done right.

The hard part is restoring the classic truck with wood side rails. But it cannot be done without building the rails first. To do so, follow the steps below.

Buy Required Wood

First, the wood is the first thing needed to start building the pickup truck's wood side rails. This can vary depending on the driver’s preference, but we like to use a 2x4 as the post and a 3x8 as the panel.

Again, this can vary depending on the tools at hand and the truck size. But we stick to this as a standard because it works for most trucks.

Measure & Cut Wood Panels To Length

Next, the wood panels and posts must be properly measured and cut to fit the truck bed. The exact sizing will vary based on the truck, but it’s simple.

There should be two or three posts on each side of the truck, depending on the truck bed length. Then, two or three panels can be used depending on the desired side rail height.

On average, the truck bed is between five to seven feet, so the panels can be cut to this length. The posts can be two to four feet high on average.

Set The Posts In Place

After the wood has been cut, the posts are the first thing that must be put in place. They can be attached to the sides of the truck first, so it becomes easier to add the panels after.

We recommend using three panels for better stability unless the classic truck has an extremely short bed.

Put Horizontal Panels In Place

After the posts are in place, one panel at a time can be added to those posts. They are held in place by using a washer and screw on each post too.

This should be carefully measured to leave about one inch or less between each panel upward. But the design can vary based on the truck owner’s preference.

Repeat Steps

Repeat these steps for each side of the truck. The same thing can be done for each side, but make notes of the measurements, so both side rails are level and even.

What’s The Best Classic Truck Type To Restore With Wood Rails

Classic trucks have been popular with people looking for a vintage vehicle to restore. Many people are drawn to classic trucks because they are tough, sturdy, and can withstand rough driving.

Truck enthusiasts can restore many types of classic trucks with wood rails. It is important to know the type of trucks available and their pros and cons.

It will make the process easier to know what type of truck is easiest and most desire to work on. Chevy, Ford, and Dodge pickup trucks are some of the best options available worth considering.

1946–1978 Dodge Power Wagon

This 1946-1978 Dodge Power Wagon is a top-rated classic truck to restore with wood rails. This is true because of the open rear truck bed, making it easy to install this unique railing style to make this truck look good as new.

The original purpose of the vehicle was to be used as a work truck for construction crews and those in the logging industry. Still, it also became popular with farmers and ranchers because of its off-road capabilities.

This truck also provides a vintage aesthetic unlike any other, which only becomes more evident with a wood rail exterior.

1950s Ford F-Series

The 1950s Ford F-Series was one of the most popular models from this series and is considered one of the rarer Ford classic trucks. This is why it’s such a reliable truck to restore too.

This model also had more power than previous models and new features like an automatic transmission and power steering. We recommend restoring one with wood rails because the truck bed is versatile and heavy-duty.

The vintage design of this truck also makes it easier because the truck bed is much lower than modern-day models. This allows drivers to use wood side rails as an easy restoration method.